After fruit pickers sent home, weeping mother claims daughter was abused

After fruit pickers sent home, weeping mother claims daughter was abused

Tongan RSE Liason Officer in NZ Sefita Hao'uli, Tevita Latu and CEO Ana Bing Fonua in Kerikeri. Photo/Kitekei'aho Tu'akalau

A Tongan mother’s claim that her 15 years-old daughter was sexually abused in Kerikeri has come after eight Tongan fruit pickers were sent home last Friday.

Radio New Zealand reported the chief executive of Tonga’s Internal Affairs ministry, ‘Ana Bing Fonua, as saying the young men were sent home after being accused of drinking alcohol, causing violence and being unable to carry out their tasks.

The Tongan Broadcasting Commission said one of the returning fruit pickers had denied the allegations.

Kaniva News understands the fruit pickers were sent home after an investigation found they had been involved in incidents involving the girl.

The woman told Kaniva News she was devastated when she learned her daughter had been abused.

“I cried heavily when I knew about what had happened to her,” the mother said.

“She was too young for that.”

The mother did not identify her daughter’s attacker, but said she was abused while mingling and drinking with the Tongan boys.

She said the incidents began in 2015 when a Tongan group from Niua arrived in Kerikeri.

“Some of those boys, including married men, came here and I cooked for them because they were relatives of mine,” the mother said.

“But they had friends that came with them and they started befriending my daughters and that was when the incident started.“

The group of pickers from Tofoa arrived last year and like other groups of Tongan workers, became aware of the girls.

It appears that many Tongans either visited the girls or invited them to parties.

The mother, her 15-year-old daughter and another daughter,18, were staying with a palangi man in his house in Kerikeri.

She said her daughters were friends with a group of about eight Maori girls.

The boys  began having meal with the girls  and then partied with them.

The fruit picking authorities became aware of the episode when it was noticed that some of the boys were often absent from work.

They warned them but the girls went to where the boys were boarding and continued their relationship there.

At one stage the mother left for Auckland, leaving her daughters and their friends behind.

She said she trusted the palangi because they were friends in Auckland before he moved to Kerikeri, but later regretted her decision.

The mother said she sought help from social workers, but a formal complaint to Police was cancelled after fears about how one of the girls involved would react.

When she was interviewed, the mother said she wished the incident could be stopped.

Sefita Hao’uli, the Tongan liaison officer who looked after the Tongan Recognized Seasonal Workers’ programme, reportedly pleaded with the fruit pickers to be disciplined and keep to the purpose of why they were coming here into New Zealand.

According to Radio New Zealand, the men came from Tofoa, Tongatapu.

The town officer there, ‘Usaia Fifita, said they had ruined the reputation of Tofoa and its people.

The main points

  • A Tongan mother’s claim that her 15 years-old daughter was sexually abused in Kerikeri has followed the deportation of eight young Tongan fruit pickers last Friday.
  • The woman told Kaniva News she was devastated when she learned her daughter had been abused.
  • Radio New Zealand reported the chief executive of Tonga’s Internal Affairs ministry, ‘Ana Bing Fonua, as saying the young men were accused of drinking alcohol, causing violence and being unable to carry out their tasks.
  • The Tongan Broadcasting Commission said one of the returning fruit pickers had denied the allegations.

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